PC Cheryl Knight

Wiltshire Police employs hunter as new Rural Crime Team officer

Wiltshire Police’s Rural Crime Team has recently announced its new recruit, PC Cheryl Knight. But Knight has links to both the Beaufort Hunt and the Avon Vale Hunt.

One of the Rural Crime Team’s main remits is to investigate and prosecute illegal hunting, and the police department is currently investigating one of the hunts that Knight has been pictured alongside. Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs told Protect The Wild:

“The recent revelations that the Wiltshire Police Rural Crime Team has just appointed a fox hunting officer to their team isn’t a surprise, given our experiences with Wiltshire Police, who have a long history of close association with these organised crime gangs.”

The sabs continued:

“At a time when public confidence has never been so low in our supposed law-enforcers, whoever thought putting a fox hunter into a role, which will give her access to reports of fox hunting crimes, needs investigating. The officer in question needs to be immediately removed from this post.”

Beaufort and beagling

Knight has posted a number of photos to Facebook, showing her affiliations with hunting. Her posts reveal that she has been a field rider for the Beaufort Hunt, while in 2019 she attended Ian Farquhar’s retirement meet. Farquhar is renowned within hunting circles, having been joint master at the Beaufort for 34 years, and vice chairman of the Masters of Foxhounds Association from 2005-2016. Farquhar previously appeared in court for aiding and abetting the blocking up of badger setts.


PC Cheryl Knight attends beaufort hunt
Cheryl Knight attends Ian Farquhar’s farewell meet


PC Cheryl Knight rides with the Beaufort Hunt
Knight riding with the Beaufort


Knight has also posted up photos of herself beagling with her mother. It’s unclear which pack she is on the ground with, but it’s likely that it was the Wiltshire and Infantry Beagles.

PC Cheryl Knight goes beaging


Avon Vale Hunt

In 2017, Knight posted photos of herself drinking Pimms and celebrating the hunt staff and field riders at the Avon Vale Hunt’s Boxing Day meet. This is the same Avon Vale that is currently being investigated by her own department after horrific footage revealed members of the hunt digging out two foxes. The video highlights the true brutality of fox hunting, showing hunt masters, staff and riders standing around a freshly-dug hole as a staff member pulls out a fox. The terrified creature is dropped into the pack of hounds just as another fox escapes from the hole.

Protect The Wild has previously reported on the Avon Vale Hunt’s violent and criminal activity, which is well documented by sabs. A few violent incidents that stand out are:

  • In 2005, Avon Vale hunt stewards were arrested after attacking those attempting to monitor a hunt.

  • In 2009 saboteurs reported being attacked by “15 armed men wearing balaclavas”.

  • In early 2020 the Independent reported that saboteurs were chased by masked pro-hunt men on quad bikes.

  • On 27 December 2021, Wiltshire police sent just two police officers to the famous Avon Vale Boxing Day meet, one of whom — PC Laura Hughes — is said to be a paid-member and rides with the Avon Vale Hunt. The failure of the police to intervene when protesters were being harassed, and their failure to call for back-up, emboldened Avon Vale thugs as they assaulted protesters. Bath Hunt Saboteurs filmed the assaults, and stated:

“Wiltshire police knew there would be violence, and they chose to send a fox hunter to watch it. No wonder the police didn’t intervene, it was her friends beating people in the street.”

  • And in 2022, a hunt sab was hospitalised by Avon Vale staff after they were knocked unconscious. The sab spent several nights in hospital, with bleeding on the brain.


Cheryl Knight attends Avon Vale meet


Obvious bias

Knight is just one of a number of police officers to have links with the hunting community, making police forces’ claims of impartiality laughable. But Wiltshire Police sees no conflict of interest in employing Knight, and told Protect The Wild:

“It is not illegal for someone working for a Police Force to be affiliated with a hunt organisation. We wouldn’t comment on alleged affiliations or membership of individual officers to any hunt. We expect all of our officers regardless of rank or role to carry out their duties impartially, without fear or favour.”

But as Wiltshire Hunt Sabs points out,  the issue isn’t whether it is legal for someone in the police to be affiliated with a hunt, but whether it breaches the police’s Code of Ethics. The sabs said:

“This remains to be a breach of the Code Of Ethics. It is not for any officers to decide if a long-term fox hunter – who has hunted with some of the worst and most prolific of all the law breaking hunts, and who has just been appointed into a role which involves investigating her fox hunting friends – can ever be considered to be impartial.”

‘Crass timing’

Of course, Knight isn’t the first police officer to be affiliated with hunting, nor will she be the last. Wiltshire Sabs told Protect The Wild:

“Indeed, PC Knight is just one of many current serving officers known to us as a fox hunter; there are many more both serving and retired who have held down jobs supposedly as enforcers of the law, whilst simultaneously breaking it over the years.”

The sabs continued:

“What is particularly crass in this case is the timing. It’s a kick in the teeth to those of us who dedicate our time, money and often compromise our own safety to do what the law should be doing, protecting our wildlife from these gangs. More so as this comes at a time when the team she now works for is at the early stages of investigating her hunting friends at the Avon Vale Hunt, in respect to the vile video of the Avon Vale whipper-in throwing a hunted and dug-out fox to the baying hounds.”

Protect The Wild also contacted Matt Longman, the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead on fox hunting crime, and Philip Wilkinson, Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner. But both refused to comment, arguing that Wiltshire Police are operationally independent.


Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs are asking everyone to join them to protest Knight’s appointment. They will meet on at 1pm on Sunday 5 March 1pm at Wiltshire Police’s headquarters. See their Facebook page for updates.